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Somalis Now Seek Power Sharing Deal

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Somalis Now Seek Power Sharing Deal

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The Guurti Must Reform Gradually

Nairobi , August 22, 2006 – A major reorganization of the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) is expected if the ongoing pursuit of a power-sharing formula succeeds.

Sources close to both the TFG and the Islamic Courts Union told The EastAfrican that chances are that the post of the prime minister, currently held by Ali Mohamed Ghedi, could be given to the Islamic Court's chairman, Sheikh Shariff Ahmed, as part of the power-sharing deal.

However, other sources argue that although the performance of Mr. Ghedi has been wanting, the Islamists might not necessarily go for the post of head of government but ensure adequate representation in the cabinet, local administration or even head the judiciary based on Islamic principles.

Having been unable to make its presence felt on the ground for the past two years, TFG is willing to give more room to the Islamists by inviting them to the government that was formed in Kenya in 2004, but this will mean surrendering some of the top positions.

However, negotiations that were supposed to resume in Sudan last week between the TFG and the Islamic Courts under the auspices of the Arab League had to be suspended to give room for Mr. Ghedi to come up with a new Cabinet from which he was expected to pick those to negotiate with the Islamists.

With the exit of the warlords who have hampered the operations of the TFG since its formation and ascendancy of the Islamists, the TFG led by President Abdillahi Yusuf has no choice but to enter into a power-sharing agreement to remain relevant.

The situation has however, split the TFG, with sources intimating that both President Abdillahi and Speaker of the Transitional Parliament, Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, are for the incorporation of the Islamists into the government, while prime minister Ghedi is not comfortable with the idea.

Apparently, the idea of power-sharing is being pushed by Somali intellectuals and businessmen who were previously in the diaspora, but who have since gone back to Mogadishu to try and bring stability to the war-torn nation.

Their main strength is that they have the ears of both the Islamists and the TFG, who by and large still remain suspicious of each other.

TFG was put in place as a transitional government to pursue peace and reconciliation after 14 years of war, but it has been unable to make its presence felt partly due to lack of the people's mandate. It has since been forced to adapt to changing circumstances, especially after the Islamists kicked out the warlords and gained the monopoly of violence.

But of great concern to the TFG is that the Islamists - who took control of Mogadishu on June 5 after a fierce battle with the warlords - continue with their territorial expansion which could undermine the authority of TFG, especially if they decide to capture Baidoa.

However, sources close to the Islamists last week maintained that the expansion is not fuelled by greed for more territory, but because they are being invited by locals who are weary of fighting and are ready to embrace peace.

Notably, most of the territories, except Mogadishu, have been captured without a fight as most of the fighters simply hand over their weapons in a pre-arranged surrender.

The same sources revealed that the Islamists have no intention of attacking Baidoa as long as the negotiations between them and TFG is going on and the Ethiopian troops believed to have set camp at the border with Ethiopia do not enter Somalia. However, the situation could change dramatically should the Ethiopians - who have vowed to protect TFG from Islamist attack - openly start war maneuvers.

Another sensitive factor that could compel the Islamists to enter into confrontation, is the idea of foreign intervention. The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) has been working on a regional peace-keeping force with troops mainly from Uganda and Sudan.

The Islamists are fiercely opposed to foreign intervention, maintaining that it will scatter chances of a power-sharing agreement with TFG.

Source: The East African

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